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Be wary of dire market forecasts

The most likely scenario is that the markets will begin to rise from here -- and that bounce is just beginning to take hold.


Sales and profit rise at the world's largest retailer. The former catalog king beats Wall Street estimates.

By TheStreet Staff May 17, 2012 8:12AM

TheStreetBy Alexandra Zendrian


Wal-Mart (WMT), the world's biggest retailer, on Thursday reported first-quarter income from continuing operations of $3.74 billion, or $1.09 a share. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.04 a share in the April-ended period. Sales rose to $113.02 billion, topping analysts' estimates of $110.54 billion.

Same-store sales increased 2.6% in the quarter, beating the 2% increase analysts predicted.


Sears Holdings (SHLD) reported first-quarter income from continuing operations of $89 million, or $1.78 a share, reversing a loss of $165 million, or $1.53 a share, a year ago. Adjusted loss per diluted share from continuing operations was 31 cents a share, up from a year-earlier loss of $1.34 a share.


The billionare's investing style may not work for regular folks.

By Jonathan Berr May 16, 2012 6:19PM
General Motors (GM) shares were up Wednesday after it was disclosed that Warren Buffett's Berskshire Hathaway (BRK.B) had acquired a position in the automaker.

GM closed up more than 2% to $21.91.

The purchase of 10 million shares underscores one of Buffett's famous investment rules: Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Buffett was drawn to GM because its stock is dirt cheap, trading at a price-to-earnings mutiple of 6.22, well under the industry average of 13.49, according to Reuters. 
Tags: BRK.Agm

Will a shoe give you a hot body? Skechers makes the connection -- and pays the price.

By Benzinga May 16, 2012 6:10PM

By Brett Callwood

The government is coming down hard on Skechers (SKX), citing the deceptive nature of the company's ads, which all but promised that if you wear its shoes, you'll develop a figure like Kim Kardashian's or Brooke Burke's.

You'd think Americans would have enough common sense to know that a shoe cannot replace exercise and a good diet. We have been pummeled with ads that have precariously ridden the line of deception, apparently just staying on the safe side, for our entire lives. So, thanks Uncle Sam, but I don't need to be told that Skechers' claim of a tush-toning shoe is nonsense. 

Investors applaud the move, sending the stock up more than 3%.

By Jim J. Jubak May 16, 2012 5:50PM
Shares of General Electric (GE) popped Wednesday on news that its finance unit, GE Capital, will resume paying dividends -- to parent General Electric. GE Capital suspended its dividend payments to GE in 2009 in midst of the global financial crisis. (I added General Electric to my dividend income portfolio on Feb. 3, 2011.) 

GE shares closed up 3.3% to $19 after the announcement.

The dividend to GE from GE Capital is a chunk of change even for a company as big as GE. GE Capital will make a $475 million quarterly payout in the second quarter of 2012 and pay a special dividend of $4.5 billion in 2012. Excluding the special dividend, the goal is to pay out 30% of GE Capital's earnings in 2012.
Tags: GE

Amid political disunity in Europe and scary technical breakdowns, investors wonder how bad things could get.

By Anthony Mirhaydari May 16, 2012 4:11PM

For the second day in a row, a feeble intraday rebound attempt by the bulls was foiled on bad headlines out of Greece. On Tuesday, it was news that a bank run is developing as the Greek people race to withdraw their deposits to protect their wealth against the likely Greek exit from the eurozone. On Wednesday, it was rumors that the European Central Bank was withdrawing its support for the Greek banking system -- ostensibly to pressure leaders in Athens to stick to their austerity agreements.


Unfortunately, that sets the stage for additional losses in the days to come, as buyers have been unable to retake major technical support levels violated Monday. Moreover, not only does the fundamental outlook look bleak, but the stock market's recent weakness puts some very scary medium- and long-term reversal patterns into play.


Mark Zuckerberg is a long way from the typical Wall Street type. That doesn't seem to be impacting his company's IPO, however.

By Wall St. Cheat Sheet May 16, 2012 3:55PM

Mark Zuckerberg refuses to do anything normal.

He shuns corporate culture while owning one of the most valuable technology companies in the world. And while he's made the decision to finally take Facebook (FB) public, that doesn't mean he's suddenly going to become one of Wall Street's many men in suits.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that Zuckerberg won't be ringing Nasdaq's opening bell in New York when the social network goes public Friday. Instead, he'll celebrate the day with employees in Menlo Park, Calif., in what seems to be becoming a trend among tech companies.


Some of the company's largest partners are selling some shares. Is it a bad sign?

By Kim Peterson May 16, 2012 3:05PM
Facebook's (FB) early investors plan to sell major stakes in the company's initial public offering this week. Is this a red flag for investors or simply smart business?

After seeing so much investor enthusiasm for the IPO, early shareholders like Accel Partners are boosting the amount of shares they're selling. Accel has raised its amount by 28%, and will now offer more than 49 million shares in the IPO. 

These companies paid little or no federal income tax between 2008 and 2011.

By Wall St. Cheat Sheet May 16, 2012 2:29PM

Image: Taxes (© Peter Gridley/Photographer)Forget Taxmageddon, Washington already has tax issues it is avoiding. Last year, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy issued a report on federal income taxes paid -- or not paid -- by large corporations.

Although the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%, the study found that the average tax rate of the 280 S&P 500 companies investigated was only 18.5% between 2008 and 2010. Furthermore, 30 of the companies paid no net federal income tax in the same period. Now, the Citizens for Tax Justice has updated the report to reflect information for the 2011 tax year.


The auto giant's move raises doubts about Facebook's business model -- just days before it begins selling shares to the public.

By TheWeek.com May 16, 2012 1:56PM

General Motors (GM) announced this week that it will no longer pay Facebook to advertise on the social network, an embarrassing setback for Mark Zuckerberg and Co. in the run-up to their fanatically hyped IPO on Friday.

GM says paid ads on Facebook, which constitute the bulk of the social network's revenue, "have little impact on consumers' car purchases," says the Wall Street Journal.

Tags: gmGOOG

Other governments could be prompted to take similar steps.

By Trefis May 16, 2012 1:08PM
TrefisImage: Gold Bars (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)The Indonesian government's sudden ban on the export of 14 unprocessed raw minerals, effective May 6, could potentially have a significant impact on the valuation of miners with Indonesian operations.

The new rules, which mainly ban the export of copper, iron ore, gold, nickel and bauxite, could hurt Freeport McMoran (FCX) and Newmont Mining (NEM), even though they are currently exempt from the ban, as it has also been reported that an additional tax of 20% will be imposed on these exempted miners. 

Stocks pare earlier gains as investors await FOMC minutes.

By MSN Money Partner May 16, 2012 12:43PM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Target (TGT) shares rose after its "beat and raise" earnings report, but two other prominent retailers plunged following their reports.

J.C. Penney (JCP) slid 16% after suspending its dividend and reporting its same store sales fell 18.9% during the first quarter, while shares of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) dropped over 13% after the company's same-store sales declined 5% and its revenues missed expectations. 

Are the retailer's problems just a necessary part of a painful turnaround?

By The Fiscal Times May 16, 2012 12:28PM
Image: Coupon (© Photodisc Green/Getty Images)By Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times

J.C. Penney's (JCP) view of the world, as laid out for analysts and investors in Tuesday afternoon's conference call, is rather rosy. The retailer's transformation is "ahead of schedule," former Apple exec and current Penney CEO Ron Johnson said. Vendors and "design partners" love the company's new shop strategy, the management team is simplifying the company's business model and streamlining operating teams and "merchants have stepped up to the challenge of improving our merchandise and presentation." To top it all off, Johnson said, the stores are "gaining mindshare."

Too bad gaining mindshare doesn't seem to translate into gaining sales. 

If the Chinese search giant's platform takes off, it could drive significant mobile search volume for the company.

By Trefis May 16, 2012 11:57AM
TrefisBaidu (BIDU) is reportedly planning to launch its own smartphone running on an upgraded version of Baidu Yi, its customized mobile operating system based on Android.

The new smartphone may be manufactured by Foxconn and be Baidu-branded. Baidu has already launched some smartphones with partners like Dell, which run on the Yi OS.  

The biggest names in entertainment are coming to the ratings rescue for NBC and Fox talent competitions.

By Benzinga May 16, 2012 11:18AM

By Katey Stapleton, Benzinga Staff Writer

TV bosses are shelling out big bucks to bring the grandest names in the entertainment industry to judge their celebrated talent shows.

Comcast's (CMCSA) "America's Got Talent" on NBC now has Howard Stern choosing the fate of the country's freshest meat, while News Corp's (NWSA) "X Factor" on Fox has paid a pretty penny for Britney Spears' involvement with the U.S. version of the Simon Cowell-produced singing competition.


PepsiCo is upgraded to 'outperform,' and KLA-Tencor is downgraded to 'underweight.'

By MSN Money Partner May 16, 2012 11:03AM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Wednesday's noteworthy upgrades include:  
  • Cisco (CSCO) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
  • Akamai (AKAM) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Citigroup
  • Fossil (FOSL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
  • Seadrill (SDRL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup


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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.

Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 ... More


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